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Trump In Turmoil, Virus, Protests, Court Losses, Aide Rebukes; Supreme Court Blocks Trump From Ending DREAMER Program. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired June 18, 2020 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN RIGHT NOW: He is in crisis.
In just two weeks, President Trump has suffered a series of losses and is struggling to handle two crises at once. He's inflamed racial tensions as unrest grows over excessive force being used against black men and women by police officers and the systemic problems with criminal justice in the United States.
Pentagon leaders, who traditionally don't break publicly with the commander in chief have rebuked his actions and have apologized for being associated with the president's political stunt outside the White House.
The list grows of his former top advisers saying that he's incompetent or unfit for office. And now, his most recent former national security adviser is describing just how bad it was inside the room.
The Supreme Court has stopped Trump's original plan to end DACA and guaranteed workplace protections for LGBTQ Americans over the last four days, and that includes with the help of one of President Trump's SCOTUS picks. We're going to get to all of that in a moment.
But, first, I want to begin with his denial that is impacting the health and lives of Americans. He's misleading the public on the severity of the coronavirus, directly putting American lives in danger. His rally in Tulsa is the exactly that health officials, his health officials, warn against. It's indoors, it puts thousands and thousands of people close together, it does not require masks, it involves loud talking and screaming and no social distancing but the president says it's safe.
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DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: If you look, the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was. It's dying out.
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KEILAR: Well, that's not remotely true. That is a lie. In fact, based on statistics, facts and reality, the opposite is true. Cases are spiking in nearly two dozen states, in Texas and North Carolina, record high hospitalizations, in Arizona, a new single-day high for the second time this week, and in Florida, new warnings it could become the new epicenter of coronavirus in the United States.
In Oklahoma, the site of the president's rally, a 110 percent spike in new cases over the last week. And, of course, tragically, the number of Americans who have lost their lives keeps rising. It is now close to 118,000.
So, again, it's not dying out. And this denial of science, this disregard of science is something that the nation's top infectious disease doctor is sounding the alarm over.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are, for reasons that sometimes are inconceivable or not understandable, they just don't believe science and they don't believe authority. That's unfortunate because science is truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So Trump, Dr. Fauci is literally describing president Trump there.
I want to go to the ground there where cases are rising. CNN's Rosa Flores is in Miami, Ed Lavandera is in Dallas for us. Rosa, I want to begin with you, because health experts are now warning that Florida could be the next epicenter of this pandemic. Tell us what's happening there.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, good afternoon. Yes, scientists from the University of Pennsylvania saying that Florida has all the ingredients for a COVID-19 disaster, and today, Florida recording a record day of daily cases, 3,207 on Thursday alone. That is a record here in the state, very concerning, of course. We've been following it.
Last week, we were talking about 1,000 cases a day and there was alarm about that. Over the weekend, it turned into more than 2,000 cases and now a record 3,207.
Now, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis digging in his heels, he maintains that the increase is only due to aggressive testing in communities that have outbreaks, like prisons, long-term care facilities, agricultural communities, areas where there are a lot of farm workers. But we checked with an expert here at FIU that looks at the numbers all the time, every single day, Dr. Eileen Marty. And she says that that is not just due to aggressive testing, that there is a rise in cases.
Now, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Carlos Jimenez, he is also saying that there is an increase in cases and an increase in hospitalizations as well. And he is taking it so seriously that he's actually sending police officers to stores, beaches, to parks to make sure people are social distancing and wearing masks.
Now, Brianna, I want to leave you with this metric, because this was mentioned by the governor, that in March, the median age of coronavirus cases was 65.1.
Last week, it was 37. That is very concerning and we've talked to a mayor here in Miami because the worry is that these individuals, even though they're younger, they're going to be going home and could spread it to their parents or to their grandparents. Brianna?
KEILAR: That's right.
And, Ed, take us to Texas. What are you seeing there?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: More record-setting days is what we're seeing here in Texas, Brianna, where record-setting hospitalizations. Remember, the governor here in Texas has said that this state, for the most part, has been in good shape for the previous few months because of the amount of hospital bed space, ICU bed space, ventilators, that sort of thing. But we are beginning to see the strain of all of that.
We've had new highs in hospitalizations, starting to reach the 3,000 mark, which we haven't seen throughout the course of this pandemic. And we've also seen about a 41 percent increase in the total number of positive cases that are being reported.
Now, a lot of this is being passed off as increased testing, but when you look at the rate of new infections and new positive rates compared to the amount of testing that's being done, the number of positive infections is outpacing the number of tests being done on a daily basis. So that's why that is a particular concern.
And if we move a little bit west, if you talk about the State of Arizona, that is another state where you're seeing dramatic increases in the numbers of new cases being reported there. More than 2,500 reported in Arizona today, that's two record-setting days in a row. And more importantly, if you look at the seven-day average of the number of new cases being reported, we're now seeing about a little over 1,500 cases per week being reported in Arizona. That's 55 percent higher than it was a week ago.
And in both of these states, you really kind of see this battle again about the use of masks. City leaders mostly here in Texas, for example, really got it going back and forth with the governor here in terms of whether or not masks should be mandated. But many city leaders across Texas really battling the complacency and the fatigue among the population here, many people just simply tired of hearing about the coronavirus and there's that complacency that's making it very difficult for city leaders to kind of get their point across to the population. Brianna?
KEILAR: All right. Ed and Rosa, thank you for those reports. We do have breaking news. The president gave an interview to The Wall Street Journal in which he says he made Juneteenth famous, that, quote, nobody had ever heard of it before. Juneteenth, of course, commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. And as you know, he rescheduled his Tulsa rally because of backlash against holding it on that date amid racial tensions in the nation, especially where a racist massacre in 1921 left the once prosperous black district burned to the ground, more than 10,000 of the black residents there homeless and an estimated 300 dead.
Let's bring in Wall Street Journal White House Reporter Michael Bender. So, Michael, tell us about this interview, especially the president's comments here about Juneteenth. Because it seems like an admission that he didn't know what Juneteenth was.
MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think that's correct. We talked about that a little bit in the context of him having to change the date of his rally. And he told me he started polling people around him, as he usually does on any range of subjects about what Juneteenth was and who knew what about it. He couldn't find anyone, he told me, who knew what Juneteenth was until he asked a black Secret Service agent who informed him, as you said, that it's a commemoration of freeing the slaves.
KEILAR: I mean, that's stunning. So he also talked to you about the presence of systemic racism in America. This is a quote from him in your interview. He said, I'd like to think there is not, meaning systemic racism, but unfortunately there probably is some. I would also say it's very substantially less than it used to be.
This has been a problem for him, right? He's had many of his aides who are saying that it doesn't exist and he's downplaying the impact of systemic race. What did you make of this comment?
BENDER: Well, I think what the president was basically telling us is that he doesn't have a lot of black voices around him. There's the anecdote he told about Juneteenth. I asked him a little bit about his walk over to St. John's Church and some criticism that why didn't he bring someone who his -- a black supporter with him to speak with the crowds or to address some of the protesters or to help him relate to some of the protesters and his answer was there were none around in the White House.
And when it comes to systemic racism and the question of systemic racism, it's not something that he -- my sense was that it wasn't something that he's thought a lot about on the front end. the day-to- day experiences of black Americans.
He did say that -- we talked a little bit about his meeting with some of the families, victims of police violence, and he did talk about how impactful that was and how it did resonate with him about the stories he heard and the passion which some of these parent and siblings spoke. But, you know, he struggled to sort of talk about specifics of any of those cases and, you know, didn't have any plans for events with black leaders or some of these families. We saw him do an event with police. And his answer here is the economy. I asked him what his plan was to heal the country, to bring white and black together, the black community together with the policing community and his answer is the economy, that when jobs come back, people will have better lives and some of these issues will fade away.
KEILAR: And so obviously that's going to be a big topic for him when he hosts his campaign rally in Tulsa this weekend. And this is happening, as you know, Michael, despite warnings from local leaders who are worried about the dangers of spreading the coronavirus as we're seeing spikes there.
So he is now suggesting that people are wearing masks because they don't like him? Is that what he told you?
BENDER: Well, we talked a little bit about tests, about COVID testing, which he called overrated and, you know, we can talk about that. But I had asked him and mentioned to him that he also doesn't seem to like masks very much. And he's gone after Joe Biden quite a few times, mocking Biden for wearing masks, he's gone after some reporters, questioning why they were wearing masks. And so I asked him if he thought that was personal, that was a show of disapproval about the president and he acknowledged that it was, or that it was at least possible that that was why some people wore masks.
His broader concern, which was also interesting, was that people aren't wearing masks properly, that they touch them, they don't wash their hands. And then the very reason these masks exist are being, you know, are being lost when people don't wear them the right way.
KEILAR: The president, as he was defending his rally in Tulsa, he acknowledged that some attendees may catch the virus.
BENDER: Yes, that's right. I mean, I asked him what happens when supporters of yours get sick at some of these rallies. And his answer was, in effect, that it's probably going to happen. He said it would be a very tiny percentage. But the implication here is that, you know, is that people know what the risks are, right?
I mean, we didn't talk about the -- the president and I didn't talk about the liability waiver he's having supporters sign to come into the rallies, but that's a well-known fact. And he's trying -- to me, he seemed to be trying to balance letting people take their own risks while also trying to reopen the economy.
And, you know, as we've heard him publicly before, he's very concerned about the long-term effects on people's health if the economy stays shuttered for too much longer.
KEILAR: And what did he say about China and the virus?
BENDER: Well, we've talked quite a bit about that. I asked him if he thought that China intentionally let the virus escape from its borders and didn't lock down fast enough in order to spread damage to other economies. He's kind of insinuated this before. And he said he thought it was a possibility. He said there was a better chance that it was either a mistake or incompetence on Beijing's part, but he thinks there's a real chance based on his own sense. I asked if he had any intelligence on this, he said, no, that China let this escape intentionally, which is a pretty shocking revelation.
And we also talked about China as far as testing and the second wave. Wuhan, there was a second spike in Wuhan a few weeks ago, a city of roughly 10 million people. They tested almost everybody there in about a week-and-a-half. So I asked him, if something similar happens in New York, if there's another spike in Michigan, would he support testing everybody to isolate the virus?
And he said, absolutely not, that testing is overrated, all it does is lead to additional reports of cases and was concerned about how that makes the country look.
KEILAR: Michael Bender, thank you so much. And I also dare say I think your baby girl just made her national television debut. So thank you so much for joining us from home. We appreciate it.
BENDER: Thanks for having me, Brianna.
KEILAR: And breaking now, one of the officers charged in Rayshard Brooks' killing is turning himself in, as some officers in Atlanta call out or walk off their shifts.
Plus, another major loss for the president at the Supreme Court. I'll be speaking with a DREAMER to react to that.
And another of the president's former top officials saying that he's incompetent and unfit for office, what John Bolton's damning allegations reveal.
This is CNN's special live coverage.
KEILAR: The Supreme Court, which includes two of President Trump's own picks, has delivered him to major losses in just four days now. First, justices ruling that employers cannot fire their workers for being gay or transgender, and today, with a 5-4 ruling, the court rejected the president's efforts to end the Obama administration's DREAMER program. This protects 700,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from being deported. Chief Justice John Roberts siding with liberals in the decision.
I'm going to speak with Presidential Historian Douglas Brinkley about this in just a moment. But, first, I want to bring in Lucas Codognolla. He is a DACA recipient and a member of the United We Dream. Lucas, thanks for being with us. LUCAS CODOGNOLLA, DACA RECIPIENT: Thank you for having me, Brianna.
KEILAR: So you have been here in the U.S. since you were a child, then you have protections, then you did not have protections. What has your reaction been when you heard the Supreme Court decision?
CODOGNOLLA: It's been a few hours now that I've been able to process. The first thing I did was just take a deep breath. I mean, it's been -- my life has been in limbo for a few years now. Ever since election, Trump has attacked the DACA program, and so our lives have been in limbo.
And so today is a moment of celebration. I took a sigh of relief and I was able to call my parents and loved ones and really shared with them the news.
KEILAR: Okay. So tell us -- obviously, it's been nerve-racking having this up in the air, but tell us a little bit about you, having been here since you were a child. Tell us your story.
CODOGNOLLA: Sure. I'm originally from Brazil. And I moved to the U.S. with my family at the age of nine in 2000. And so I've been here for 20 years. And now I live in a mixed status family where I'm the only undocumented person who has DACA in my family. They are citizens and they're permanent green card holders as well.
KEILAR: Okay. And so what is this going to mean for you and for your future, Lucas? And are you concerned that the Trump administration could actually try to change this again? They could have another shot at it at rescinding this.
CODOGNOLLA: Correct. I am -- today, for the next 24 hours, I'm in celebration, but the work doesn't stop here. It took a movement for us to win DACA. The Undocumented Youth Movement really pushed the Obama administration to put pass this program, to put this program in place. And now, we have, once again, fought to defend it.
But the work doesn't stop here. We still need legal protections for the undocumented community. DACA left a lot of people out of the program. And so we always knew and understood that DACA was a temporary fix to a much larger program. And so for us now, it's a moment of celebration, but we're cautiously celebrating because the Trump administration can try to end the program again at any minute.
And so we're going to continue fighting to defend the program and we are going to continue fighting for a permanent solution to our broken immigration system.
KEILAR: Lucas, thank you so much, Lucas Codognolla. We really really appreciate your voice.
CODOGNOLLA: Thank you, Brianna, for having me.
KEILAR: I want to bring in CNN Historian Douglas Brinkley to talk about this. So, I mean, Doug, this is the second Supreme Court here in a week that the president has lost on. And he tweeted about this a short time ago. He said, quote, do you get the impression that the Supreme Court doesn't like me, he asked. I wonder what you think about that tweet and also the expectation he had. And, I don't know, maybe you think rightfully so that things would maybe go his way more with two picks on the Supreme Court.
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I'm not sure the Supreme Court dislikes Donald Trump, but they don't like presidents that misuse the law. And the fact of the matter is I think Justice Roberts is correct, that Donald Trump tried to overturn Barack Obama's executive order on DACA and it didn't do the paperwork, didn't dot the Is, didn't cross the Ts, sloppy White House work and the Supreme Court said you can come back to us at a later date but this is deeply insufficient.
But then Donald Trump has really been opposed to civil rights laws in their most fundamental ways, and so the victory for the LGBTQ community gives Donald Trump two black eyes in the middle of June in an election cycle and it's just been compounded by John Bolton revelations in himself book, which there are many and they're devastating. And the fact that he's been tone deaf to the street protests of America and the failure during the COVID-19 crisis, the two lost months and the fickled messaging that's been going on leading on into his speech in Tulsa this weekend.
So it's been a really bad couple of weeks for Donald Trump and it just got made a lot worse with this DACA ruling.
KEILAR: So he's lying about coronavirus right now. He's saying it's dying out. It's not. Just to be clear, it's not. He's got a rally in Tulsa indoors, thousands of people this weekend. Has there been a time when a president in history has put people in danger like this?
BRINKLEY: Well, you know, to be honest, Woodrow Wilson did in the sense that when we had the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 and 1920 but during World War I, he didn't want to get the American people worried too much about the flu. And so he sent soldiers who died from influenza because they were so packed on to boats and there wasn't a sense of mandatory mask-wearing even though many people did in hospitals of that era.
So it usually comes at a need for great expediency. In Wilson's case, it was winning of World War I and not panicking the American people from that cause. Donald Trump's case, it's all about politics for himself in 2020, how do I get re-elected. It's shameful that with so much medical evidence and the science community telling us that COVID is alive and thriving all across America that the president's decided to go on with the campaign stunt in Tulsa, put people's lives at risks. It's unseemly. It's going to be a dark mark on his presidency.
But the last, Trump feels he need some momentum, and the only way when you're getting hit from all sides, like he is now, for a personality like his is to get on the road and move, try to get the rallies, try to feed off of crowds. He's starving without a crowd. His presidency shrinking, hence, Tulsa is on the books. KEILAR: All right. Doug, thank you, as always, Doug Brinkley.
BRINKLEY: Thank you so much.
KEILAR: And breaking now, one of the officers charged in Rayshard Brooks's killing is turning himself in, as some officers in Atlanta call out or walk off their shifts.
Plus, John Bolton making one damning claim after another, including how he says the president agreed with China on locking up Muslims in concentration camps.